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Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles

Date: June 2, 2024

When you're thinking about getting a new roof, you'll often hear about different types of shingles. A common question is, "What's the difference when comparing three-tab shingles vs architectural shingles?" Here's an easy-to-understand comparison…

What Are Three-Tab Shingles?

Three-tab shingles are made from a tough base covered with mineral granules. They come in different colors, are lightweight, and can withstand winds of 60 to 70 mph.

Although they look like three separate pieces, each 3-tab shingle is actually one piece. This design looks nice and gives your roof a neat, smooth look. 3-tab shingles are the simplest and most affordable option for roofing.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles

Advantages of Three Tab Shingles

Three-tab shingles are lightweight, easy to install, and don't have some of the problems that tile, concrete, or clay roofs can have. They are very durable and can handle various weather conditions. However, it's important to have them installed by a good professional, as poor installation can damage your roof.

One big plus is that three-tab shingles are cheaper than many other roofing materials, making them a popular choice for many homeowners. They come in simple designs and colors, which make your roof look clean and minimalist.

Given the high cost of roofing, many people prefer the simple and neat look of three-tab shingles.

Disadvantages of Three Tab Shingles

A major downside is that three-tab shingles have thin frames, which makes them more likely to be lifted by strong winds. Without proper maintenance, they can become loose and let strong winds damage your roof.

Three-tab shingles can only handle winds up to 60 to 70 mph, so they might not be the best choice if you live in a high-wind area. If your shingles get damaged or come loose, it's important to get a free roof inspection quickly to prevent further damage. Damaged or missing shingles can't protect your roof properly, leading to more serious and costly issues.

What Are Architectural Shingles?

Before the 1980s, three-tab shingles were the most popular type of asphalt roof shingle. They were easy to install, affordable, and came in many colors.

In the 1980s, new technology and changing tastes led to the creation of architectural shingles. These are made by bonding two or more basic shingles together, giving them more thickness and a unique shape.

Architectural shingles, also known as laminated shingles, are designed to look like real cedar shakes or natural slate tiles. They offer the same attractive appearance without the weight, installation issues, fire risk, maintenance, and high cost of natural wood and stone.

Some manufacturers offer these shingles in many colors, but those that mimic wood or slate usually come in natural colors like reddish browns and various shades of gray and black.

While people often choose architectural shingles for their upscale look, they have other benefits too.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles

Advantages of Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles have a three-dimensional texture and don't need tab slots like 3-tab shingles. They are stronger and heavier but usually don't need extra support underneath.

Made of multiple layers of material, asphalt, and granules, architectural shingles are more durable than standard asphalt shingles, which have a single layer over a glass mat. They can withstand higher winds, up to 120 mph, and are more fire-resistant.

These shingles can be customized to your preferences, adding depth and texture to your roof for better curb appeal. They can look like more expensive materials, such as wood or slate.

Disadvantages of Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are up to 50% heavier than 3-tab shingles, which could be a problem for some roofs (an inspection will show if they are suitable for your home). They also cost more than 3-tab shingles.

Although they are usually higher quality and more durable, architectural shingles can still be damaged by bad weather and debris. Repairs for architectural shingles are more expensive.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles: Overall Appearance

The main reason you might pick architectural shingles over three-tab shingles is how they look.

Three-tab shingles are flat and all the same size and shape, giving them a simple, uniform look.

Architectural shingles have a more three-dimensional appearance. They can look like more expensive roofing materials, such as cedar or slate, which can enhance your home's curb appeal.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles: Color Options

When it comes to variety, architectural shingles are the clear winner over three-tab shingles. They offer more choices in colors, textures, shading, and shapes, and can look like more expensive roofing materials, while 3-tab shingles always look like three-tab shingles.

However, three-tab shingles still offer many color options, giving a clean and uniform look. Most brands offer more than 30 different colors to choose from with three-tab shingles.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles: Durability

Since three-tab shingles are made from a single layer, they are relatively thin. In contrast, architectural shingles are made by laminating two layers of asphalt shingles together, making them more weather resistant.

Most three-tab shingles can only handle wind speeds of 60-70 mph. Architectural shingles can usually withstand 110 mph winds with regular installation and up to 130 mph with special installation methods.

For maximum durability, architectural shingles are the better choice.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles: Lifespan

Architectural shingles are made from stronger, higher quality materials, so they usually last longer than three-tab shingles. While three-tab shingles last 10 to 25 years, well-maintained architectural shingles can last up to 50 years.

Although architectural shingles cost more than three-tab shingles, it's important to consider their longer lifespan. Getting more than double the lifespan for the extra cost is a significant advantage.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles: Installation Process

While both architectural and three-tab shingles are made of asphalt, their installation processes are different. It's always best to hire a professional roofer to install them. 

In general, architectural shingles are easier to install than three-tab shingles. They need fewer tools and are less complicated to put on. This can sometimes lower the cost of a new roof, but you should check with your roofing company for details specific to your roof.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles: Cost

Architectural shingles cost about 40 to 50 percent more than three-tab shingles. However, they are usually a better choice because they last twice as long as the best three-tab shingles.

Choosing three-tab shingles might seem like a way to save money, but you'll probably spend more on installation and need to replace your roof sooner.

Insurance claims can also affect your decision. If you're replacing your roof through an insurance claim, the insurance company will only cover what you already had. If you want to upgrade from 3-tab to architectural shingles, you'll have to pay the extra cost yourself.

Are architectural shingles worth it? We think so, but it depends on your situation.

Three-Tab Shingles Vs Architectural Shingles: Warranty

Three-tab shingles usually come with a 20, 25, or 30-year warranty. Architectural shingles, however, typically have at least a 30-year guarantee. Three-tab shingles have a shorter lifespan and can only handle winds up to 60-70 mph, while architectural shingles can withstand up to 130 mph.

The quality of installation is also important, so it's crucial to choose a reputable roofing company with a history of success and satisfied customers.


Both three tab and architectural shingles have their pros and cons. Three tab shingles are more affordable, lightweight, and offer a clean, uniform look, but they are less durable and have a shorter lifespan. Architectural shingles, while more expensive, provide greater durability, a longer lifespan, and a more upscale appearance that can enhance your home's curb appeal. When deciding between the two, consider factors like cost, durability, appearance, and the specific needs of your roof. It's essential to have a professional handle the installation to ensure the best results. 

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